Idumota Market Lagos Island, Nigeria.

198 million people! That, according to the NPC (National Population Commission), is the current population of Nigeria. I don't want to discuss how they arrived at those figures, otherwise we shall spend the whole day describing the rudiments of pools betting/Naijabet/Ifa/ and certain other mediums that deal with speculation and oracles. Those figures should give any serious nation cause for concern.

As of today, Nigeria is the country with the highest population of the poor in the world…the same world where we have Zimbabwe. Curse Mugabe all you will, his only offence was that he overstayed his welcome. Mugabe raised literacy rates in Zimbabwe from 18% to nearly 88%. Now this is not speculation. These are facts. We have also the highest population of out of school children in the world. We surpass even countries that are at war or have been at war in the last ten years. We are breeding like rabbits and it's not guaranteed to stop anytime soon. We have grim figures coming from child mortality and maternity figures. It’s as though we even keep or have the required statistics. But even the ones available show frightening figures. 

We have a population without purpose. We celebrate the number of PVC collected, and we moan over the numbers uncollected. Our population is now solely for election purposes only. 28 people turning up for school certificate examinations and one million turn up for voters card. I fear we are fast losing it as a nation. We boast of our birth rates. Our children are ready recruits for Boko Haram in the North, for militancy in the South and “science students” in the West. We are sitting on a keg of gun powder and our leaders are mixing petrol and fire on top of it.

And one day we shall understand the poetic license of Chinua Achebe’s “There Was a Country".

- Moses Ideho, a Barrister-at-law, is social critic.

Note: "Science Students" is a euphemism for drug addiction in secondary schools.

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